Well, to start, some would say that I am a glutton for punishment. I would just say I like a challenge (get it challenge… Trailhead check challenge (I crack myself up) okay I will stop now).
I decided to host my first event in my son’s classroom. My son goes to Hillcrest Community School in Bloomington, MN, and the Hillcrest School hosts a special needs program called The Vision Program. These students have emotional and or behavioral needs. My son is on the autism spectrum, hence his involvement with the program. It was extremely easy to get the teacher on board and get sign off from the principle since most schools have a big push to get more technology in the classroom. Since I had familiarity with the classroom setting I asked the teacher if it would be okay to have the students invite a “buddy” from their main stream classes (main stream is just regular class setting). My idea here was twofold: one, kids in the vision program rarely have the opportunity to invite their friends from the main stream class into the vision class. This would give them the opportunity to allow the main stream students to see that they are in a learning setting as well, albeit a smaller setting with more support staff. It would also boost the vision class confidence and give them something to “brag” about like all the events that happen in their main stream classes. The second was to have unofficial helpers and supporters. This type of thing can be very intimidating to students with special needs, however having a “buddy” to help with confidence and following along can go a long way.
From the beginning, Mrs. Amanda (Vision teacher) said that when she announced the event the students were excited. When she told them they could invite a buddy they were overjoyed. The Vision classroom has seven students and each brought a buddy so that made fourteen students total, one teacher, one therapist, one para, myself and Zayne Turner from the Minnesota WIT group were all in attendance to build their first App!
Quick Start: Build Your First App
To keep the students engaged I knew I would need some “props” so I decided to create little booklets that highlighted the steps they would follow in the Trailhead module. I intentionally only created seven booklets, one for each set of students. This sort of forced them to work together, and oh boy did they. You should have seen them working as a team helping each other: PRICELESS! I also created Astro and Trailhead signs for the students to use to raise their hand. I created fourteen of these, one for each student, so that if one had the answer they could raise and then help the other to find the answer.
The classroom had a smart board. This was a really cool feature to have! As we walked through the steps in the Trailhead module, the kids were able to touch the screen and enter data, save data and check the challenges. This kept them engaged and happy to participate.
This would also allow me to present in front of the class while the student told me what the next step was. This was fun and engaging because when there was no data entry to be done and I had them read the steps out loud. Each student got a chance to answer and or come up to the board, and you should have seen the camaraderie! If the main stream student answered, they would allow the vision student to come up to the board. Zayne was my “driver” if there was something that could not be done on the smartboard she would ask the kids to tell her what the next step was precisely and she would do it while telling them exactly the steps she was taking.
Explaining to them what Salesforce and Trailhead are was a bit of a challenge (I know they didn’t fully understand) but they were so excited that they could build an app. Some of the students got a little lost when going through the steps for the challenge. However, with just a little bit of direction we were able to stay on track, and this is where the buddy system also helped out a ton. Another challenge was the lack of mobile devices for the students to see the finished product. They were so excited to see the app we had created and most of them wanted to see it on a mobile device, thank goodness I had Zayne who reminded me that Salesforce has a mobile view simulator that we were able to display on the smartboard. Additionally, not all the students remembered to use the Astro and Trailhead signs to raise their hands, my pride is just hurt on that one (I spent a lot of time and money on those lol).
The students had a really great time and they learned some cool new things. (I’m not just saying that because I think I’m cool; they told the teacher this when I left the room.) We were able to complete the app module in forty minutes. Most of the students wanted to know how they could complete more free Trailhead modules and if I would come back for another round of “Trailheading with Hillcrest”. After the module was complete, I asked follow-up questions to see if anyone had retained some of the things they just learned. Most of the students were able to tell me one thing that they learned, however, I did offer them swag to recant lol. I would have to say all in all it was a success and I can’t wait to return and explore more trails with these awesome kids.
Have fun be silly and always bring snacks and swag!
Special thanks to Annie Shek for issuing the challenge, April Kyle at Salesforce who put in a ‘rush’ order for our swag, Zayne Turner for being my co-pilot and the Hillcrest school and Vision program for allowing me to give the love and knowledge of Salesforce.